Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mailbag - Answers to Questions from Readers

Every week I receive lots of messages from readers who have questions about things I've written. I also receive a lot of message from people who are in search of suggestions for tools that solve a problem for them. Some of these questions are very specific while others have a broader appeal. Those with a broader appeal make it into my periodic mailbag posts. If you have a question, you can always email me at richardbyrne (at)

My students will be starting a video project. They need to interview a teacher. They will be using Chromebooks for the assignment. Do you have any suggestions? I love tech but I'm a video novice?

My suggestion is to try WeVideo. WeVideo will allow students to edit raw video clips and splice-in transitions between segments of their interviews. WeVideo provides good tutorials for first time users. If you're just concerned with capturing the video and don't need a polished product, your students could record directly to YouTube. I have a video here that provides an overview of the basic YouTube setting teachers and students should know.

My current district ( I am leaving - moving away in two weeks) uses Google Drive for everything. Is there an easy way for me to "save" the things that I want to keep - take with me - when I go?

You can use the Google Takeout tool will to download everything from one account and then upload it to another. Otherwise, you can put everything in a folder (or two or three) then share that folder with yourself in your new account.

Which screencast software would you recommend and why please?

I use for creating screencasts. It works well on every laptop I use and is free for recordings under five minutes long. The yellow circle that you see appearing in all my screencast videos is built into Screencast-O-Matic and I find it helpful in identifying a cursor in a screencast. The pro version of costs $15/year and offers longer recording times along with removal of the Screencast-O-Matic watermark on videos.

I was wondering if you knew of any apps or online tools that students could use to create learning portfolios to take with them when they leave high school?

I generally recommend using Weebly or Google Sites for high school students to use to create digital portfolios. As long as they use personal email addresses rather than school email addresses, they will retain control over the portfolio for as long as they like.